By Alice Purnell OBE.
In 1966 the Beaumont Society was founded by six of us. Our first meeting was in Southampton consisting of fifteen members of the Society with five wives (and my dog). Alga Campbell was the first President. I was overseas coordinator as I speak French.
Gradually it became clear there were thousands of people who could not join the Society because of fear, or because they were not able to attend meetings. They were people who felt and were isolated, ill-informed and needing to understand themselves, trying to learn how to cope in very difficult times. So we formed as a separate voluntary organisation called the Beaumont Trust to try to help these people. The Society provided all the funding and some of the trust personnel. Grants were made from the Beaumont Society and a donation form was attached to Membership joining and renewal, so this money could help the Trust to fund a helpline and pay for admin, postage, etc.
The Trust was and is a separate organisation trying to help and inform those who would or could not join a membership group. It also includes professionals in the field of care of trans people and those close to them.
The Beaumont Trust was formed in 1971, then became a registered Charity, in 1975. It was founded by medical and other professionals concerned about the complexities and difficulties experienced by so many gender variant people, who often felt suicidal and confused in those early years of fear and isolation, with little or no information available, much media hostility and sensationalism and many profound problems. A new Trust Deed was implemented in 1976, then updated 1987, which is the one in place now.
This registered Charity was the first in the UK specifically concerned with gender variability, that is to say concerned primarily with transgendered people and with crossdressers (our now preferred terminology to calling them transsexuals and transvestites).
Several trustees had been Samaritans, helping people who phoned to deal with thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Initially, we worked with the Albany Trust, a Christian gay helpline Charity, to share helpline techniques and share knowledge. As with the Sam’s, about a third of calls to the Albany Trust were from distressed trans people. So eventually the Trust set up a helpline with ten trained volunteers, who were trained as per the guidelines of the National Helpline Association. Sadly this was discontinued as we ran out of volunteers.
We provide or help to find speakers on trans issues for various bodies (Samaritans, Prisons, Police, employers etc.) Among our trustees, there were originally three medics and two psychiatrists (sadly Dr. Russell Reid retired to New Zealand) and two psychologists.
Publications The Trust distributed thousands of informative leaflets entitled
“Gender & Sexuality Definitions”
And published books
“Transvestism A Guide” M Haslam,
“Towards an Understanding Transvestism & Cross Dressing” M Haslam
”Transvestism & Cross Dressing Current Views” Jed Bland
“Trans in the 21st Century” Alice Purnell & Jed Bland
Alice Purnell wrote several other books on Trans for Gender Trust and for GENDYS (both of which she founded.) Jed Bland & Dr. Michael Haslam also published other works on these topics.
The Beaumont Trustees included people from the other support groups and professionals in the field of care for those in the trans community, so to an extent, it acted as a forum for UK support groups and professionals in the field of care for the trans people.
The Trust held conferences in Leicester and in Leeds, in the seventies, then one in 1988 in Manchester that Alice organised and followed this every two years from 1990 – 2004, when she organised the First of seven International Gendys Conferences in Manchester University, the last being in 2004.
Copies of the Conference Reports can be seen in the British Library and the trans Archive at Bishopsgate .
We are greatly delighted with the ongoing help from Jed Bland compiling & editing the Reports. Some talks from these conferences can be seen online via the old Gendys Website.
Alice joined, or had contacts internationally, both in Europe ( FPE, ABC, Humanitas et ) and in the States ( Virginia Prince’s Phi Pi Epsilon and the Harry Benjamin Gender Dysphoria Assn) so there were many contacts, including interesting international speakers, both and professionals in the field and those from within the trans communities. Research in the Netherlands did much to show trans is not an illness to be cured or erased but is simply part of diversity.
The legal and politics of trans are vastly better now than in the mid-twentieth century, but problems still persist. Steve Whittle & many others took up the legal fights for equality in law, employment, and respect. We got the professionals listening and keen to help with care standards, research and resolving more appropriate attitudes towards trans in its many aspects; as simply a part of natural diversity, with some need to demedicalise it, just as is the case with being gay or intersex, or being left-handed or a redhead.
The late Prof. Richard Green and Virginia Prince were among our friends, and good understanding and communication thrived between the professionals and the “Client Group” was maintained.
From the onset in the Trust, we felt we had to refer all under eighteens to Mermaids or GIRES, who specialise in issues concerning youngsters, so we have a superb relationship with another gender Charity GIRES. Now the Beaumont Society is itself a Registered Charity.
We need several additional suitable trustee volunteers, please help us do this important work.
Recently we needed to increase our scope to include suitable non-trustee volunteers like help-liners, speakers, prison visitors, partners, and young IT people to assist the work of the Trust, so we have created a code of conduct, for complying with new Government Regulations and our insurance. We have now a need for many new Friends of Beaumont Trust FOBTs to join in and continue our work.
Expenses will be paid, there will be a once a year General Meeting for updates and projects. Where required, training will be provided.
Can you help us as a volunteer in this important work please, or by making a donation to this Charity?